Most of the doctors, naturopaths and dermatologists have told me that baby eczema is mostly due to genes. The inheritance is not only limited to the baby's parents but can also be from anyone blood related such as aunts or uncles or cousins who has eczema, hay fever or asthma. Great... that pretty much means every baby has a good chance of having eczema due to genetic reasons!
Aside from genes, some babies also have eczema for other reasons. The exact causes of eczema are not known and can be different for every child.
For my baby, I don't know of any eczema, hay fever or asthma conditions in our family history. But who knows... maybe Uncle John had an eczema patch at some point in his life...
Anyway, through many rounds of trial and error, I learned that my son flares up with he is overdressed and when I ate soy (he was breastfed).
Do you know what irritants make your baby's eczema symptoms worse? Consider and pay attention to these possible irritants:
- Soaps and detergents
- Cigarette smoke
- Pets (cats and dogs)
- Wool and synthetic fibres
If you think your baby may be allergic to food, go on an elimination diet where your baby eliminates certain foods for a period of time, usually one or two weeks, then slowly reintroduce specific foods and monitor symptoms for possible reactions. If you are breastfeeding, you will go on the elimination diet yourself. Keeping a diary that lists all the food and reactions is a good idea to identify patterns and triggers.
When you or your child go on the elimination diet, you may want to start trying these foods that are typically associated with eczema causes:
- Dairy products
- Nuts and seeds
- Soy products
Many parents assume that a particular food or irritant is the cause of their child’s eczema. Unfortunately, the answer is rarely that simple.
Although I've identified some things that make my child's eczema worse, I still haven't found out what causes it and it continues to be a daily battle. To avoid other possible irritants, I've switched to chemical-free detergent for all my laundry. I vacuumed two times a week and changed beddings weekly to try to keep my home as dust-free as possible. I've also switched his mini wardrobe to all 100% cotton clothing and sometimes 100% organic bamboo or organic cotton when I can find them. Organic bamboo and organic cotton is hard to find but they are the softest and most natural fabric for your child. GAP carries a organic cotton baby line and it's available at their bigger stores or online.
So should you do an allergy test? My dermatologist told me that most eczema is not related to diet, and because current allergy tests do not accurately predict eczema triggers, allergy testing is not recommended. However, if the child gets a rash after contact with a specific thing or eating a specific food then allergy testing might be considered.
Lastly, remember to test all the moisturizers you buy on a small test area of your baby's skin to see if it causes any problems. You never know what reaction he or she may have.